Like a bullet from a gun it burns. The opening lyrics to grime MC Skepta’s new Album Ignorance Is Bliss (this is of course, if you admit the “big smoke” and “SK level” ad-libs). Skepta comes into this album 3 years post Konnichiwa, an album that was highly praised and surely leap frogged him into the artist he is today. It got him featured on big artist’s records like A$AP Rocky and Playboi Carti. It got him matching tattoos with hip-hop mega star Drake. And surely also put him in the space were most people would use that album as the benchmark. Ignorance Is Bliss had to be better. The people have been waiting! While I can’t say I was ever the biggest Skepta fan, I always enjoyed his persona and his affinity with fashion much like some of my favorite rappers. This being said, I definitely was caught off guard with the dissatisfaction some listeners had with this album. This is for sure for me one of my favorite drops of 2019.
First of all, the production is bonkers. I can’t remember the last time I heard so much synth and electronic sound in an album when the artist still spits hard bars into the microphone. After listening to some interviews, it sounds as though Skeppy had his hands all over the project, especially in the production aspect. I always think some of the best and most unique beats come from artists that can chop it up. Names like Kanye, Andre 3stacks, Tyler the creator, J Cole, and the late Mac Miller come to mind as those who can spit but also take unique sounds and mash them up into beats. Like stated, the production on this thing is nuts. Some songs can definitely ring a little too loud, but much like any album certain songs require certain moods.
Speaking of moods, we get Skepta at his most vulnerable in this one. Talking about having a kid and growing up definitely make this album seem like Skepta is in a happy place as far as how he has matured and looks at life differently. It is interesting to think at one point his children will listen to this and wonder what their father really was like at this time in his life. Skep is at his most happy, but definitely confronts some of the trials and tribulations that led up to this point.
The features on this album go hard. Skeppy kept it diverse and cultured with the features, enlisting artists from all over the globe. The hooks are often very different form the verses, giving a good switch of energy from when Skepta has bar-ed you to death with heavy flows. My favorite outsource of talent has to be on Glow In The Dark with Lay-Z and Wizkid singing the chorus. It does help break up how unique Skepta’s voice is. Sometimes if you hear it for too long, it sounds monotonous and just a little too much accent (I get past it, but others find it a deterrent). The only feature missing was one from the guy A$AP (can we get another Praise The Lord?).
Coming in at a digestible 40 minutes, it is pretty easy to run this project back (turbo) and play the shit out of it. Some songs can mold into your favorite playlists, whereas I really enjoy either playing it front to back or on shuffle, just going in full SK level mode. The greaze is strong with this one. While I wonder why so much distaste is garnered to this project (not so much distaste, but few giving it as much praise as I), it makes sense if you hold him to the Konnichiwa standard. Having not dived as deep into that project, this is one album from Skepta that will stay in rotation for quite some time. It will definitely make me go back and bump more of his discography, and appreciate his total body of work. In this instance, ignorance is really bliss as far as my enjoyment of this album.